Commercial and industrial bonfires

Every year the Environmental Protection Team receives a large number of complaints about nuisance caused by bonfires. Bonfires connected with trade or commercial activities are illegal and the law is much stricter and the penalties for causing a nuisance are high. Commercial waste includes waste from gardening, landscaping and/or builder’s waste etc.

Duty of Care

Sections 33 and 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 places a Duty of Care on waste producers. This requires waste producers to ensure that all waste produced, stored or transferred does not adversely impact upon the environment or human health. The duty of care makes it illegal to burn commercial waste on site, or to dispose of waste without a waste transfer note or contract.

Dark Smoke - The Clean Air Act 1993

If a bonfire is producing 'dark smoke' by the burning of trade or commercial waste on commercial land then the persons responsible maybe liable to fines of up to £20,000 after a successful prosecution in court. The Council does not need to serve a notice first, and it does not have to be thick black smoke. This law will also apply if we think that items to be burned are likely to give rise to dark smoke. The kind of items which we are concerned about are plastics, rubber or densely packed wood, especially if the wood is painted or treated.


If the smoke, fly ash or gritty particles associated with a commercial bonfire cause a nuisance to other people then this is a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The Council can serve a notice to abate the nuisance or prevent it happening again. If the person responsible does not comply with this notice then they can be fined up to £20,000.